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Next, the FTAA

By Henry Lamb
web posted August 8, 2005

It began in 1994. All the attention was focused on the new WTO, emerging from the Uruguay round of GATT negotiations. Little attention was paid to the Summit of the Americas meeting in Miami. The assembled ministers agreed to create a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, and that it would be completed by January, 2005, and would enter into force by December, 2005.

For ten years, 34 governments have been conducting negotiating sessions throughout the Americas, fashioning a new trade agreement that will swallow up both NAFTA and CAFTA, and, quite literally, much of the U.S. Constitution.

The final draft agreement addresses every aspect of trade in the western hemisphere, and requires that every dimension of the agreement be "WTO compliant." Chapter II contains two provisions that should disqualify the document immediately from any serious consideration by the U.S. Congress.

Article 4.2 contains this language:

"4.2. The Parties shall ensure that their laws, regulations, and administrative procedures are consistent with the obligations of this Agreement. The rights and obligations under this Agreement are the same for all the Parties, whether Federal or unitary States, including the different levels and branches of government..."

This language requires that existing laws - at every level of government - be conformed to the requirements of this agreement. It requires that all future laws conform as well. The effect of this agreement takes away law-making power from duly elected representatives of the people, and gives it to unelected bureaucrats, most of whom represent foreign nations.

This language is consistent with the WTO, NAFTA, and CAFTA, all of which were approved by Congress. Both NAFTA and the WTO have required revisions of dozens of domestic laws. CAFTA will do the same, and the FTAA will continue to take away laws that the peoples' representatives have enacted.

This process is transforming the meaning of national sovereignty. Article 3(g) stipulates that the agreement is governed by the principles of "sovereign equality." This is a term that arises from the 1995 publication of Our Global Neighborhood, the report of the U.N.-funded Commission on Global Governance. In Chapter II, under the heading Democracy and Legitimacy(page 66), a lengthy discussion proclaims that the concept of national sovereignty must be revised. Ideas are introduced such as:

"...countries are having to accept that in certain fields, sovereignty has to be executed collectively..." (page 70)

"...there is a need to weigh a state's right to autonomy against its people's right to security."(page 71)

"It is time to think about self-determination in the emerging context of a global neighborhood rather than the traditional context of a world of separate states." (page 337)

Thus, the concept of "sovereign equality" emerges to replace the concept of national sovereignty.

National sovereignty embraces the belief that every nation has equal sovereignty - independent and supreme authority over its territory. "Sovereign equality," on the other hand, is the belief that every nation has equal sovereign authority - under a common, or collective, supreme authority. The FTAA represents this supreme authority in the Western hemisphere, in much the same way as the European Union seeks to become the supreme authority in Europe, both of which are subservient to the WTO, which functions within the United Nations' family of international organizations.

These two provisions alone, should be enough to scrap this agreement. The negotiators have accepted this language, as has the administration. Congress is the only hope Americans have, to reject this entangling agreement. Congressmen will not read this language, however. They will listen, instead, to the lobbyists, the arm-twisting messengers from the administration, and editorials from the major media.

They will be told that the agreement is an expansion of free trade, that failure to approve the agreement will label the U.S. as isolationist, a rebel in the global neighborhood. These arguments have been successful with NAFTA, CAFTA, and the WTO. Ordinary people know better.

Ordinary people still have time to be heard on this agreement. Ordinary people elect these representatives, and politicians are dependent upon them for reelection. Ordinary people are the only power on earth greater than the power of the U.S. government. If ordinary people fail to defend their freedom, no one will defend it for them.

The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is an extraordinary erosion of freedom, for this nation, and for every citizen.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.


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